Thrift Store Shopping Made Chic

With spring comes both the cleaning bug and the urge to redecorate. If you are on a budget, shopping at thrift stores is both a good idea and kind of fun! In addition to finding bargains (if you look beyond the junk), these visits are like a step back in time, usually to about the 1970s and 1980s. 
 
Here are some suggestions to satisfy your spring fever: 
 
Ceramic and glass platters. When people clear house, they often discover an excess of kitchen and household accessories. We recently decided to spruce up our kitchen for each season and holiday by getting a plate stand and finding a nice platter (one with a witch for October, and a snowman for December) to display in the corner of the countertop. All cost under $8 each.


Old patchwork quilts. Are your pets digging and scratching at your good furniture? Find a colorful old quilt (usually $10-$15, depending on the size), wash it and tuck it over the cushions and back of the couch or loveseat. Not only does it protect the furniture but brightens a room instantly!


Vases. Bring spring inside. Glass vases are available in all colors, shapes and sizes and usually cost less than $2. Splurge and create a mantel display of fresh flowers! (If you are lucky, you may come across a quality vase!)


Tablecloths. Think out-of-the-box and buy colorful tablecloths for your outdoor table. They cost $5-$10 and are way more classy than flimsy plastic ones. In fact, ditch paper plates and buy sets of dishes for outdoor use. Whole sets are available for about $20 for any size outdoor function.


Lamps.
Does your living room seem gloomy but you are not willing to splurge on expensive new lamps? Check out thrift store lamps. I’ve found heavy brass lamps that just need a good cleaning and new shade for $25. Someday, I hope to find a  Stiffel!

thrift store pottery platter

 

It’s #whatsitwednesday!

Be the first to guess what the pictured item is by leaving a comment below. If you have your own whatsit, our editors can include it in a future post. Please send an email to editor@kovels.com and attach a clear picture, the size and any markings. Hopefully, we will be able to identify it for our readers!

The pictured item is 6 inches high.

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Kovels Item

(Photo: Richard D. Hatch & Associates)

It Often Pays to Clean a Painting

“Portrait of a Woman” went from being considered a masterpiece by Dutch painter Rembrandt (1606-1669), to being declared as a “knock-off” painted by an unknown assistant, to now being worth potentially 10s of millions of dollars. A cleaning and new examination with modern methods led to experts re-evaluating its origin BACK to the paintbrush of Rembrandt himself.

In the 1970s, the Rembrandt Research Project, a Dutch organization that investigates attribution claims, decided the portrait that had been donated in 1961 to the Allentown Art Museum in Pennsylvania as likely the work an assistant or student of Rembrandt. Earlier X-ray analyses had some historians questioning the authenticity of the brushwork. The apparent lack of clarity in the subject’s clothing also fueled doubts, as did concerns about the artist’s signature, which is painted differently from those on many of his other works.

Two years ago, the painting was sent to New York University for conservation and cleaning. Removing decades of grime and layers of varnish from previous “restorations” cleared away the doubts about the brush strokes and subtle hues. And it turns out the signature used on this portrait is consistent with other works from that year, 1632, when the painter, whose full name was Rembrandt van Rijn, briefly wrote his name as “RHLvan Rijn.”

“Portrait of a Young Woman” is expected to go back on display in Allentown on June 7. The museum is planning an accompanying exhibition that will explore the processes of conservation and attribution.

 

rembrandt portrait of a young woman art painting

Photo: Shan Kuang / Allentown Art Museum

G. Washington Pitcher

Q: I inherited a black and white pitcher with Freemason details, George Washington, and the quote “To heavens High Architect all praise All gratitude be given Who design’d the human soul to raise By secrets sprung from heaven.” The number “#0199” is marked on the bottom. One eBay site lists the value at $2,400. Can you give me an estimate or instructions on how I can find out what it is worth?

 

A: Creamware pitchers with transfer designs of Masonic symbols and themes were made for the American market by several Staffordshire and Liverpool potteries in the late 1700s and early 1800s. Some featured pictures of prominent men who were Masons or illustrated historic events. George Washington was a member of a Masonic Lodge in Virginia. The poem quoted first appeared in a book about Masons in 1769. The mark on the bottom of your pitcher indicates it’s new, not one of the early Staffordshire or Liverpool pitchers. It may have been made to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Washington’s inauguration in 1989. Some of the prices you see online are asking prices that aren’t even close to what the item eventually sells for. An old Liverpool transfer pitcher could sell for over $1,000, but a new one is only worth less than $50.

george washington pottery pitcher

Replace Missing Stones in Costume Jewelry

You can glue missing stones back into costume jewelry. Find the glue used to glue watch crystals into the case. The glue will not yellow. Remove all traces of old glue. Put some in the setting, then lower the stone into place and be sure it is level.

 

Happy #whatsitwednesday!

Be the first to guess what the pictured item is by leaving a comment below. If you have your own whatsit, our editors can include it in a future post. Please send an email to editor@kovels.com and attach a clear picture, the size and any markings. Hopefully, we will be able to identify it for our readers!

The pictured item is 15 centimeters wide by 14 centimeters tall by 8 centimeters deep.

Note: For those of you who signed up to get notified of each response (by checking the “Notify me of follow-up comments” box in the “Add Comments” section) and find it’s generating too much email, you can unsubscribe to the “Whatsitwednesday” comments by clicking the “unsubscribe” link in the “Whatsitwednesday” email you receive.

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(Photo: Ebay/sbtradinglondonlimited)

Love is in the Air

Romance may be in the air, but did you know that Valentine’s Day started out as the Roman festival called Lupercallia that included fertility rites and the pairing off of women with men by lottery? The men sacrificed a goat and a dog, then whipped women with the hides of the animals they had just killed. Young women would actually line up for the men to hit them, believing this would make them fertile. The matchmaking lottery involved young men drawing the names of women from a jar. The couple would be together, so to speak, for the duration of the two-day festival.

Not very romantic, right? Modern Valentine’s Day started sometime in the 14th century. It may have taken its name from a Roman priest and physician who was martyred about 270 by the emperor Claudius II Gothicus. It became more a day of romance (and not whipping).

Valentine’s Day greetings cards started appearing in the 1500s and by the late 1700s, they were being commercially printed. The first printed cards were used in the United States in the mid-1800s, and the elaborate, flowery cards are popular with collectors. Hearts, flowers (usually red roses, the symbol of beauty and love) and Cupid abound.

All types of valentines are popular with collectors and prices range from 25 cents to more than $100. Some collectors hunt for Victorian valentines with die-cut images that open into three-dimensional views. Later versions, like the valentine pictured here, with folded honeycomb paper that pops open into a design, are more expensive. This valentine is from the 1920s-1930s and is worth about $10 to $20.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

my heart is thine my valentine

Dresden Globe Mark

Q: Can you tell me what company used this mark? It pictures a globe with the word “Dresden” on it.

A: The Potters’ Co-Operative Co. of East Liverpool, Ohio, used this mark. The co-operative started in 1882 and included eight potteries from the East Liverpool area. One of those potteries was The Dresden Pottery Works, which was started by Brunt, Bloor, Martin and Company in 1875 or 1876. Whiteware, hotel ware, toilet ware, and some decorative wares were made. The pottery was renamed Dresden Pottery Company in 1925 and went out of business in 1927.

dresden pottery globe mark

Drive-by Romance Takes on New Meaning

With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, romance is top on many minds. As we know, sometimes love just happens — you are in the right place at the right time to meet the person of your dreams. For one Boca Raton, Florida woman, the ultimate symbol of romance crossed her path in a turning lane while she was on her way to Costco. Deb Salazar and her husband were a few miles from the store when they spotted it. “It was in the turn lane, in a great big, old-fashioned dry cleaner’s box,” she said.

What was in the 3-foot long and 2-foot wide box decorated with the words “Bridal Chest” in script? An antique wedding dress and matching lacy hat. Salazar said the dress looks 70 to 80 years old and is tiny, probably a size 0. The dress is lace with a sheer bodice and lace cap sleeves. The hat is swirled lace and what looks to be a wide brim. Salazar doesn’t want to picture the whole dress because she’s hoping to find the real owner who can describe the dress in detail.

So, attention all Boca Raton-area residents: If you were driving near Costco with your mother’s, grandmothers or elderly aunt’s wedding gown in a professional dry-cleaning storage box, are you sure it didn’t fall out of your vehicle? If it is missing, you might want to track down Deb Salazar with a description of the dress.

Love is in the air, which is much better for a wedding dress than being squashed in the middle of a busy street.

vintage wedding dress found in box in road florida bridal chest label

Photo: Patch.com / Deb Salazar

Identify Photos Sooner Rather than Later

Identify a photograph with a note written with a lead pencil on the back of the photo. Don’t use a felt-tip or ballpoint pen. It can bleed thru to the image. Record the date, location, people and any other important comments like “wedding” or “family reunion.”